Thursday 28 November 2013

Gifts from the Pirates in Orlando - Splashing about at Wet n Wild

Because of Seth's months and months of holiday research on the build up to going away he knew exactly where he wanted to go. The water parks were pretty high on his list and he knew the names of most of the big slides and had watched many YouTube videos in preparation (he's so much like Mrs M). Seth was really excited about going to Aquatica but while me and Mrs M were doing research for the parks we heard about a film called Blackfish and decided to watch it while we were away one evening. The film is a documentary about Seaworld and their Orca whales. I won't go in to the documentary to much as this post is about a water park visit but after watching the documentary we decided to boycott Seaworld and it's two other parks despite having press passes to them all. The documentary is definitely worth a watch and I will write about it at some other time. We explained to Seth why we couldn't go to Aquatica and he understood, I'm very proud of how grown up he is in regards to these sort of situations. Although free passes sound nice It's more important that we teach the boys values.

Anyway Aquatica aside and sadly the disappointment of Legoland's water park being closed for the season we still had wet n wild to visit thanks to Visit Orlando and Seth was really excited. Time to pack for our water fun. Thanks to Trunki they had sent the boys a Paddlepak each for such an adventure. Opeie had picked a 'Nemo fish' and Seth a Shark. These bags are great for heading to the pool. Great design, plenty of space and completely waterproof. My favourite part of the bags is the roll and clip fastening, making it look Like an open fish mouth, very clever (Trunki must have a great design team because all their products are really well thought out), I will write a full review soon.

Paddlepaks packed, we loaded the car and headed out. Wet N Wild was like a ghost town which I was a little surprised at but then we were out of season and it was a week day afternoon, I wasn't complaining though, the quietness meant that we had free reign of the park with no queuing at all, it was bliss. Seth spent a brief moment studying the map and then we got changed...

Opeie decided as soon as we got there that it was his nap time so while Mrs M found a sun lounger to kick back and relax, me and Seth excitedly acted like Napoleon in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (if you remember the movie). Seth was a little apprehensive at first when it came to the bigger slides but once he'd been down one and got the taste for it there was no stopping him.

The great thing about a lot of the slides is that you go down in either a dingy (2xpeople +) or a donut in two's, bad news if your a bit of a Billy no mates. Luckily I had my best mate Seth with me and we took full advantage of a quiet water park. It was a great bit of bonding for me and Seth as we don't get much time just the two of us.
Obviously we couldn't take the camera down the slides so the pictures of us enjoying ourselves are limited. We had a blast though and although Seth couldn't go on the black hole and the Disco H20 because he wasn't tall enough he made up for it by going on Flyer and The Blast plenty of times. We also went on Bubba Tub which was really high, Seth had a little freak out when we got to the top but was fine once he was sat in the ring with me. I was pleasantly surprised at how brave he has been with all the rides and slides he has been on.
 Seth loved the blast away beach section of the park and although he wasn't tall enough to go on black hole there was a younger childs equivalent there which Seth really enjoyed. It was a great couple of hours at wet n wild and when Opeie finally woke up it was clear that he had no intention of joining us so we got changed so that we could make our way to somewhere nice to eat (which i wrote about yesterday).
 Paddlepak's repacked and smiles on our faces we headed out. Wet N Wild was a lot of fun and we would definitely go there again in the future. It being so quiet was a plus for us, more rides on the slides, no queuing and i didn't have to feel like a heffer walking about with my top off! bonus!

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Gifts from the Pirates in Orlando - Eating out and Dinner at Ethos Vegan Kitchen

Eating out in Orlando became increasingly difficult throughout our entire holiday,  for a place thats so huge and boasts insane amounts of eateries i really expected more. Not being a vegan myself or having any food allergies there were plenty of restaurants i would have loved to have eaten at but when 50% of your family are extremely limited to what and where they can eat it kind of throws a spanner in the works. We attempted to eat at a few of the well known restaurants and i got really fed up of hearing the words "we can offer you a salad?". The hard rock cafe couldn't even offer Mrs M and Opeie a Baked potato. What kind of restaurant doesn't have potatoes? Crazy!

Any way because of Mrs M's blog we spent plenty of time in the supermarkets (mainly wholefoods market) looking for interesting and new things for Mrs M and Opeie to include in the packed lunches we were having to take with us every time we left to go out. On one of the evenings we did get to eat out at a restaurant that Mrs M had heard about through a friend of hers that works at Wholefoods Orlando. 

I'm a meat eater and I've always said that i couldn't be vegan but after eating the meal i had i think it pushed me that one step closer to 'could i walk away from it all'. I chose the 'All American Burger', in any other restaurant in Orlando this would 9 times out of 10 guarantee you a huge slab of juicy meat between two halves of a bun. What i received was a meat free burger like nothing i had tasted before served with blue corn tortilla chips, it was amazing.

It probably sounds crazy to most people but it was so nice to be able to go out and eat a meal together like a normal family, unless you or your family have severe dietary issues then you cant imagine how frustrating it is trying to dine out.

Needless to say i wasn't the only one that thoroughly enjoyed my meal, everyone wolfed down the lot, it was beautiful. The thing that gobsmacked me the most about this very tasty meal, amazing friendly service and upbeat surroundings was the extremely low bill at the end of it all. For four meals and two bottles of natural vanilla cream soda the bill was a mere $31 (£19). 

The best part about the meal was finally seeing Mrs M eating something she wanted to eat with a huge smile on her face. It must be so difficult for her as many of her dietary issues are because of Opeie's breast feeding. She has given up a lot to give our boy the best start he can and i will be forever grateful for that.

To here what Mrs M thought of her lovely meal then CLICK HERE.

If you are interested in visiting Ethos vegan kitchen then here's the menu for you to have a mooch.

Thanks Ethos for a great meal and fantastic friendly service i can't recommend you enough.

"UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.”

Although I'm still writing my holiday posts (and there is still lots to come), sadly we are back home in Shropshire where the weather is pretty bleak. Yesterday Mrs M went back to work and understandably she wasn't very happy about it. It's times like this that I feel so guilty that I am the stay at home parent. As she got out of the car and gave us both a smooch I could see she was feeling quite sad so when we got home we put on our scruffy clothes and got out the paint to make mommy a card to cheer her up after work.

First Opeie painted a piece of paper Orange...

You'll have to excuse the stain on the wall from one of Seth's experiments, painting will commence this weekend!

And then we drew around Opeie's hand. It's always nice to add a personal touch to your child's craft and what parent doesn't like to look back on their child's mini handprints...

We carefully cut out the hand print and used it as a stencil on some yellow felt to cut out two hand prints.

Back to the cutting and we carefully cut out the hand prints along with two wotsit like shapes (any idea what we're making yet?).

A little more cutting (two white paper circles and two blue slightly smaller circles) and then it's time for sticking. A touch of colouring in with black pen and two mini orange pom-poms and our creation was complete.

Meeting the Lorax on holiday at Islands of adventure was one of Mrs M's favourite things so what better way to cheer her up after a gloomy day at work. Plus it was a quick craft session that kept Opeie occupied for an hour on this gloomy day in the house trying to keep warm.

Gifts from the Pirates in Orlando - Legoland Florida

 .... There was an amazing toy called Lego, a toy that couldn't be trumped by any other toy company no matter how hard they tried. Lego is the most versatile toy out there and if your a regular reader of the blog then you'll know exactly what I mean (I'm holding on to a big chunk of Lego as I type this). Being such a fan and thanks to Visit Orlando a trip to Legoland Florida was obviously on the cards during our holiday. We had tried to go a few days before this visit but were surprised to find the park closed so be sure to check opening times as Legoland is a lot further out than any of the other attractions (no where else here seems to close though?). Dont be put off though the farmland and Orange groves make for a very relaxing and scenic journey.

Anyway wasted journey aside as soon as the park was open again we made our way over. It was good to see that there wasn't thousands of people queuing to get into the park and the carpark was nowhere near as full (this maybe why the park is closed two days a week though).
*parking charges apply as with all of the parks.

Seth had really been looking forward to the Lego water park, nice hot sunny day, Trunki Paddlepak's packed, but...

Legoland was a lot quieter than the other parks which was great as it meant we could pretty much walk straight on to all of the rides (I hate queuing!). The park is pretty big and takes a fair amount of time to get around it all. The buildings as you would expect are truly amazing and I was so impressed, they put my builds to shame (although I have been getting some great comments about my Aquaman iphone case while here). We spent sometime looking round American States, New york, Las Vegas etc and famous land marks like Kennedy space centre.

The boys then buckled up and took their Lego driving tests which looked like fun, I saw Seth mount the curb but he styled it out and still got his Lego license, shhhhh....! After going on a few of the rides we headed towards the Lego pirates section of the park to watch the Lego Pirate show. We sat in the seated area around a huge lake that Legoland is on and if I'm honest i wasn't expecting much. It started off a little slow but then BAM! Lego minifigures on water ski's!!! Amazing!!!

The show was great with explosions and pirates and water stunts,  we were sitting right at the back, really high up so it gave us a great chance to try out our new lens for close up shots. Mrs M was the photographer that day and she got some really great shots...

After the show we got to meet some of the cast which the boys loved.

And then it was off to find more rides but not before stopping for a picture with Batman and Robin first. I was really disappointed that there wasn't more Lego Batman or any Lego Marvel with both the Lego Kit ranges and Video games being so huge at the moment. A Lego Gotham city area would have been amazing.

Everyone had fun on the rides, although Seth managed to talk Mrs M in to going on one of the bigger rollercoasters and she didn't look best pleased when she walked off, apparently she just closed her eyes tight and held on to her 7 year old son hahaha.

I love Lego so i was quite disappointed that overall i wasn't that impressed with the park, the Lego creations are truly amazing but the park was missing the fun and excitement that you get from Disney and Universal Studios, i thought that for the $81 it costs for adults and $74 for children, there should be more going on. We were out of season in all fairness though so maybe things are different at peak times (that being said if that is the reason for the bleakness they should drop the prices during these times). I was pleasantly surprised when we found Cypress Gardens though, a historic botanical gardens which is on site. This part of the park was beautiful and so interesting to walk around, it really made the day for me...

Oops!!! Well the rest of it was beautiful...

The tropical plants were really lovely and the gardens were so relaxing, even the wild alligators couldn't stress us out. It felt like you were a million miles away from a theme park which was what made it so great, it was a lovely hour or so break from the noise of roller coasters and excited children tanked up on fizzy drinks, i would pay the entrance price just to walk around there.

 When we came round full circle it was back to the rides, Seth seems to have gone roller coaster mad so he couldn't wait to go searching for his next ride. We made our way over to the Lego kingdoms section of the park, some of the Lego animals along the way were unbelievable it really makes me wish i had more Lego because i know that i could build like this given the proper resources.

Seth loved the Lego castle and knights and Mrs M got dragged on to another roller coaster while me and Mini me had a look around the Lego Chima section of the park. I'm not a big fan of the Lego Chima range but Opeie looked very excited and was happy to meet one of the characters.

It was getting close to the park closing time which is 5pm, again i was a little surprised at this as i think many people would be happy to spend a lot longer there and considering some of the bigger parks are still open till gone 11pm it made me wonder why Legoland had closed the water park, was closed for two days in the week and closed early evening? It was a shame as i think with Lego being such a huge company with their amazing products and the themes such as DC, Marvel, Spongebob and many others they could have done so much more. I was expecting to see a haunted house from the Monster Fighters range which is my favourite of their recent ranges but sadly there was nothing from this range apart from the kits being sold in the gift shops.

Mrs M and the boys managed to squeeze in one last ride as we were on our way out. I loved watching them all look so happy each time they passed me.

And before leaving we nipped in to one of the gift shops to buy some things i had spotted when we arrived. The shop assistant Yamelis made my day, she was so kind and friendly to the boys and gave them both a Minifigure. I was blown away by the headband that she had made to celebrate Thanksgiving which was just around the corner. A really fun use of the bricks and it put a big smile on my face, I love fun creative Lego ideas.

And then the walking about started to get the better of me, time for that long drive home...

Although i was a little disappointed by the park it was a really great day out with my three favourite people. The boys had a great time which wasn't really surprising because they love anything Lego. Seth said that Legoland Florida was much better than Legoland Winsdor which I'm yet to go to so if we go there in the future it will be interesting to compare the two. It would also be nice to see if there is any difference in the park during peak time but extra queuing and busyness could also be a put off so its swings and roundabouts really.

If you are a huge Lego fan then its worth checking out just for the creations and you can be sure that younger children will be more than excited with a visit there.

P.s Forgot to mention how much i loved the giant Albert Einstein Lego sculpture, amazing!